WASHINGTON (Oct. 14)
A plea to President Roosevelt to personally request Pierre Laval, the head of the French Government in Vichy, “to abide by rules of decency and the dictates of humanity” and discontinue the deportation of Jews from unoccupied France to Nazi territories, was made here today by Congressman Emanuel Celler in a letter addressed to the President.
Pointing out that “the whole world stands aghast at the continued pogroms and persecutions of helpless Jews in unoccupied France,” the Jewish congressman says in his letter: “Perhaps Premier Laval might listen to you. At least, it may not be inappropriate for me, as a Representative in Congress and an ardent supporter of your administration, proud of my friendship with you, to request earnestly that you address to Pierre Laval a personal remonstration and a plea that he cease his depredations upon the Jewish people in unoccupied France. Assuredly it cannot be amiss for you to draw his attention, for example, to the fact that thousands of these Jews he orders pillaged, volunteered in the French Army as soon as war broke out to risk their lives for the preservation of France.
“There is ample precedent for the suggested action. In 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt vehemently inveighed against the Czar of Russia for his massacre of the Jews of Kishinef, then the capital of Bessarabia, Russia. The Nation rejoices in your announcement that our country is prepared to cooperate in a United Nations commission, to be established after the war for the investigation of the war crimes of the Axis, with the intention to mete out just and sure punishment to ‘ringleaders responsible for the organized murder of thousands of innocent persons and the commission of atrocities.’
“The Nation also welcomes the announcement of Acting Secretary of State Sumner Welles that we plan to permit the immigration of refugee children from France whose parents have been summarily seized and deported. But in addition, I hope you may specifically call Pierre Laval to task and beseech him to cease his cruelties. Your appeal may now act as a deterrent and prevent future atrocities. Your effort may be abortive, but the world of humanity will long remember. In any event, your accusing finger might well be pointed at Pierre Laval for posterity to recognize as the new Torquemada,” the letter concludes.